The final week of 1708 Gallery’s 10 x 10 brings a very unique preview of what a High Line-esque park could do for us all.
Photo by: Kate Magee
It’s been a wild 10 weeks over at 1708 Gallery. Every week, an exhibit that involved the community, benefits human beings somehow, and inspires anyone who chooses to partake is torn down, to be replaced by another idea, project, or workshop.
In my visits to the gallery, I saw this happen multiple times. Everything gets painted over, the new folks come in, turn the gallery into their own space, seem a little anxious and unsure how it will go, and then leave tired but exhilarated. It reminds me of camp–you go into your neat cabin with your squeaky clean skin and hair, and a week later your parents pick you up: a rumpled, filthy, delighted version of your old self.
For the final week, the BridgePark project takes up residence.
The concept is both a literal and a figurative bridge–a proposed park that spans the James River and serves as a site for recreation, culture, togetherness, that sort of thing. But in addition to bridging two parts of the city, it also bridges two communities and two park services. Theoretically, you could walk from the Capitol grounds all the way over to the Manchester park systems.
Ted Elmore, a local attorney who’s part of BridgePark’s team, explains that his favorite aspect what your eyes would be treated to as you look in (pretty much) any direction. “It’s an incredible view of the sunset, the city skyline, and it’s from a height and a level that we don’t currently have access to. It’s not something we can typically stop and look at,” he says, getting a little dreamy.
With large-scale imagery and some help from their design team, the BridgePark installation at 1708 invokes what it would feel like to be surrounded by the sights and sounds of a park that extends alongside the Manchester Bridge. Elmore at al have created a faux park, complete with yoga classes, live music, and a totally local (and free) community dinner (they figure BridgePark could positively impact public health with food education and urban agriculture opportunities).
The stint at 1708 also gives the community an opportunity to submit feedback. BridgePark’s had a lot of success with cards that say “What if?” on the front and allow Richmonders to write ideas on the back. “A lot of them are funny, like ‘What if there were a waterslide into the river?'” says Elmore. “But some of them are serious. ‘What if there were a committee of high school students who worked on it?’, ‘What if all public parks were locally sourced?”
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Stay tuned for a longer, lovelier piece later this week on the folks behind BridgePark, where it’s going, and why you might be into it getting there. In the meantime, make your own conclusions by trying out a little BridgePark microcosm yourself this week at one of the following events. As Elmore says, “The primary goal of the week is to stimulate everyone’s imagination, exchange thoughts and ideas, and dream together.”
Tuesday, August 4th •Let’s Talk / Soup
- 6:00 PM • Community Conversation • Detailed description of the project and discussion
- 7:00 PM • Community Dinner & Live Music • This dinner is completely free and open to anyone who wants to hear about the project, sample local goods, or just needs a free meal. The open access is something that BridgePark will embrace, and so, too, does this little BridgePark-within-1708.
Wednesday, August 5th
- 12:00 PM • Rapid Yoga led by Karen Hansen of Ashtanga Yoga
- 7:00 PM • River / Rock • Live music featuring Lobo Marino and Friends
Thursday, August 6th
- 7:00 PM • River Dance • Interpretive dance selections curated by Dogtown Dance Theater
Friday, August 7th
- 5:00 – 9:00 PM • First Friday Art Walk